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Sun storm observation by Redhill astronomer still has experts talking

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REDHILL'S noted Victorian astronomer Richard Carrington has been mentioned in a variety of magazines and newspaper articles of late.

Mr Carrington lived in a large house, The Dome, on Furze Hill, from 1852, when he was 26 years old, and housed his observatory at the property.

He published a catalogue of his mapping of the stars in the northern skies of the 1850.

His most notable observation was the recording of a massive solar storm in 1859 – details of which have been repeatedly studied by astronomers over the years.

Alan Aylward, emeritus professor of atmospheric physics at University College, London, and part owner of the Grey Dove village cafe, Walton on the Hill, has been commenting on the Carrington observations recently in a magazine article.

Prof Aylward said that the "Carrington" solar storm on September 2, 1859, resulted in the skies above London being lit up by a "frightening swirl of moving sheets of light".

"In America, telegraph offices burst into flame and some telegraph operators received strong electric shocks. In Boston they disconnected the batteries from the telegraph cables and used the "natural" currents induced by the electrical display in the sky to send their messages," he wrote.

The sun had, said Prof Aylward, "coughed" and the Earth's upper atmosphere was responding to the sudden influx of energetic particles.

"This great auroral storm has become known as the 'Carrington event' – the most intense such display recorded in historic times."

There has been much discussion in recent years as to what the effect would be on satellites, GPS systems and televisions if a similar solar flare sent out outpourings of energy today.

Carrington was the son of a wealthy brewer who had some of the most advanced equipment available at the time housed in his observatory.

Today, The Dome high-rise flats stand on the site of Carrington's old house.

A cul-de-sac off Warwick Road is named Carrington Close and Observatory Walk, on the Cromwell Road estate, recalls the astronomer.

Sun storm observation by  Redhill astronomer still has experts talking


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